June 29, 2016


Volume 10, Issue 23–June 29, 2016




The BLAB has fallen off the supposedly weekly schedule by quite a bit lately—there wasn’t even one issue in May (though the last April issue was on the 29th), and I’m barely getting one out in June.  I’ll try to do better, but it’s tough to find the time with everything else that’s going on.  Given how long it has been, I’ll try to do a catch-up on some of the major things that have happened the past few weeks.

On the home front, we’re getting a patio put in.  I bought a new grill a few weeks ago, and while there is a “stoned in” area in the back of the house, it really wasn’t good enough since to have the grill be sufficiently far from the house, I had to stand under a honeysuckle tree with the branches in my face.  We’re going to take the tree out and have a 14×16 or so patio made with Vermont slate put in.  Tentatively, it will be done the week of July 15th, which also happens to be my birthday.  As soon as its done, expect the barbequing to commence in earnest. 

Speaking of events, June 20 was also my 40th anniversary.  Jill and I got married in 1976, and celebrated the bicentennial during our honeymoon in Israel.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been together 40 years now, and it’s a strong testament to her ability to put up with a lot.  Or as she’d put it, A LOT!




Commencement was way back on May 7, and it was a wonderful event.  Almost 900 students earned a degree or a certificate, and the CARC was well packed.  This was the first time (at least recently) that family members needed a ticket to attend (each student got four, but could request more if they were available), and the distribution went well and nobody was turned away.  The volunteers greeted our many visitors, and from all the comments I heard, everyone felt well welcomed.


The keynote speech was delivered by John C. Duken, a top executive from Dick’s Sporting Goods, and an alum from the Class of ’81. The speech talked about the importance of hard work and good attitude in getting ahead, and was extremely well received.  Sarah Ray (Veterinary Technology) won the Outstanding Baccalaureate Graduate Award, and Kaitlyn Tibbetts won the Outstanding Associate Graduate Award.

We began something new at this graduation—each graduate was given a special medallion by the SUNY Canton Alumni Association.  The medallion is quite nice, engraved with the College’s symbol and made out of bronze.  It was a very nice surprise to the graduates.

The overall ceremony lasted two hours, which is exactly the right length as far as I’m concerned—it’s long enough to know you’ve been to an important event, and short enough to not drag on and be boring.  It takes an army to put on a graduation and we had one!  Special thanks to Diane-Marie Collins, the members of the Commencement Committee, and all our volunteers and staff who played such a critical role in making things so great.




Post-Graduation Vacation?

Lots of people think that right after our students graduate, we can all go on vacation.  Not so, as anyone in higher education can attest.  The week after vacation was filled with the usual meetings with other senior staff, a trip to Lake Placid for a North Country Regional Economic Development Council meeting, a Foundation Board of Directors meeting, and our Recognition Day ceremony.

Recognition Day was a lot of fun—it’s the time we recognize folks who have worked at the college for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 40 years, folks who are retiring, and various award winners.

The College’s Meritorious Service Award went to two winners:

  • Elizabeth A. Brown is a faculty member in Criminal Justice, Presiding Office of the Faculty Assembly, and Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. Liz has also served on and chaired a record number of search committees for both faculty and staff positions.


  • Janet Parcell-Mitchell is a faculty member in the Health and Fitness Promotion program which has tripled in size since she began. She is the primary organizer of the Roo Watcher’s weight loss program, and is a volunteer for many, many campus efforts.  



The College Council, represented by Ron O’Neill, presented two awards:

  • The College Council’s Excellence in College Service Award went to Sarah E. Todd, our Director of Institutional Research. Sarah has played an instrumental role in our reaccreditation by Middle States in 2013 and in developing a strategic enrollment plan.


  • The College Council’s Employee Recognition Award went to Aimee E. Felt, secretary to the School of Business and Liberal Arts. Aimee was recognized for her professionalism and exceptional customer service skills.


One of my favorite parts of Recognition Day was the videos shown at the beginning—the P.R. folks had put together three new clips starring everyone’s favorite kangaroo, our mascot Roody:

  • In the first, he’s questioned by our HR office because someone has accused him of watching kangaroo videos while on duty:



  • In the second, he crashes a final exam and causes havoc:



  • In the third, he decides to drop his veterinary technology degree plans:



They’re all worth seeing, though the P.R. guys had me watch the veterinary technology one to make sure I didn’t think that it went too far.  “No”, I said.  That’s just life at SUNY Canton:>)



Faculty and Community Awards Dinner

Speaking of awards, way back on May 5th, I enjoyed going to the Faculty and Community Awards Dinner.  This is always a great time, because we get to recognize all the faculty who have won Chancellor’s Awards, College Council Awards, and SUNY Distinguished Professorship awards.  As mentioned in previous BLABs, we had more Chancellor’s Award winners this year than ever before, with Fred Saburro (Math) winning for Adjunct Teaching, Bill Jones (Business) winning for Faculty Service, Michelle Currier (Library) winning for Professional Service, Umesh Kumar (Accounting) for Scholarship and Creative Activities, and Diane Para (Sports Management) for Teaching.

The Distinguished Alumni Award this year was awarded to Katherine M. Wyckoff, class of 1977.  She was chosen for her contributions to the quality of women’s healthcare in the North Country through her work with Planned Parenthood, in addition to many years of service to the community.


The Distinguished Citizen Award was awarded to Thomas F. Coakley, who has served on our Foundation for 35 years and is a great friend and benefactor to the College.  He also shared his leadership skills with Canton-Potsdam Hospital, the Canton and St. Lawrence County Chambers of Commerce, and as an advocate for the physically challenged through work with the Amputee Coalition and the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics and Pedorthics.


The Distinguished Faculty Award was awarded to Jennifer S. McDonald,who teaches in our Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program, for her innovative and enthusiastic teaching style. She oversees the clinical education aspect of the PTA program, which is composed of more than 60 professional sites. Her leadership was instrumental in earning the PTA program a ten-year reaccreditation.


The food was wonderful as always, and Randy Sieminski was, as always, a great emcee.  Lots of folks said this was the best Awards Dinner ever, so big thanks go to Michaela Young, Dianne-Marie Collins, our excellent food service, and everyone else that helped make this a memorable event.



Lots of Trips

As a college president, there are lots of meetings to attend in lots of different places, mostly in the North Country but sometimes beyond.  Here are a few meetings and trips I’ve gone on recently:

  • On May 12, the North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) met in Tupper Lake, NY. The NCREDC is, as its name implies, a key part of the Governor’s economic development strategy that puts forward a plan and recommends key projects to support growth and jobs in the North Country.
  • On May 16, a North Country Economic Summit was held in Massena with various Federal Agencies that promote economic development.
  • On May 17-18, our Executive Director for University Relations, Lenore VanderZee, and I flew into Albany for meetings with our legislative colleagues to promote SUNY’s budgetary needs and to enlist support for some of the College’s initiatives.
  • On May 19th, it was off to Ogdensburg for a meeting of the Performance Improvement Committee at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, where I’m a member of the Board.
  • On May 23rd, also at CHMC in Ogdensburg, I attended a Board meeting.
  • On June 1st, the St. Lawrence County Economic Development Advisory Board met at SUNY Potsdam.
  • On June 2nd, I attended the Annual Forum for Canton-Potsdam Hospital, where they update the community on health care in the North Country.
  • On June 8th, I went to Massena for the dedication of the Celine G. Philbert Memorial Culture Centre and Museum.
  • On June 9th, our Provost Doug Scheidt, our Director of the CREST Center Art Garno, and I went down to Fort Drum in Watertown for our third cohort of Solar Ready Vets’ Graduation Ceremony.
  • June 10th brought another NCREDC meeting, this time at Clarkson University in Potsdam.
  • On June 15th, it was down to Morrisville for a meeting with several of my Technology College president colleagues.
  • June 16th was the Performance Improvement Committee again at Claxton.
  • June 21-23rd, I was in New York City to give a report to the Board of Regents on the recommendations from the Social Media Responsibility Task Force that I co-chaired. The report was well received, and all the recommendations were approved.  I also met with one of our alums for lunch, and then visited Beryl Jeffers (Director of the SUNY Welcome Center at SUNY College of Optometry).  The Welcome Center has wonderful facilities they allow us to use to recruit students from NYC, and Ms. Jeffers had some excellent advice as to how we can use the facility effectively.
  • On June 24, it was back to Ogdensburg for a meeting with NY Senator Pattie Ritchie and Canadian Senator Robert Runciman and Member of Parliament Gordon Brown to discuss some items of mutual interest.
  • Finally, on June 27, it was Ogdensburg again for another CMHC Board Meeting.



Alumni Weekend

Alumni Weekend was held on June 3-5, with most of the events on June 4th.  It was a very nice time, starting with a breakfast meeting of the Alumni Board. At noon, I attended the Half-Century Luncheon, which as its name implies, was an event for alumni celebrating the 50th anniversary of their graduation.  It was very nice hearing about how Canton and the College were back in 1966, which was the last year on the old campus (now part of St. Lawrence University), and the memories of the various things our students did back then.  The most poignant part was when each 50th anniversary graduate talked about their own individual experiences, and how much SUNY Canton had set them up for success.

 Alumni Weekend 160604-83

In the evening, we had the Hall of Fame Celebration, with the following new inductees:

  • Danny Fay has taught at SUNY Canton for 48 years, and received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service in 2011. He has also served on the Canton College Foundation since 1990, is the chair of the Finance and Investment Committee, serves as a Town of Canton Councilman, as a St. Lawrence County Legislator, and a strong supporter of athletics at the college.
  • David A. Frary graduated from SUNY Canton in 1970 in Banking, Insurance and Real Estate and again in 1972 with a degree in Mortuary Science. He was the owner and manager of Phillips Memorial Home until recently, when he retired and turned the business over to his son.  He volunteers with St. Lawrence Valley Hospice and Palliative Care.  David received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2014 and has been a member of the Canton College Foundation Board of Directors since 1990.
  • Pauline Graveline retired from SUNY Canton after 29 years of service—first as a mathematics professor, then as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. She helped bring the Financial Services and Information Technology degree programs to the American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was always dedicated to student success.
  • Christine Gray retired from SUNY Canton as the Vice President for Administration after 24 years. She continues to work with her husband and daughter at their CPA firm, Hoffman, Eells & Gray as Office Manager.  She is a loyal supporter of the Canton College Foundation and joined the Board of Directors in 2015.
  • John G. Maines graduated from SUNY Canton in 1977 in Agricultural Engineering, but was also a reporter and then editor of the College newspaper. He then worked at the Massena Observer, Ithaca Journal, and The Clarion in Jackson, MS.  He has been a computer-assisted reporting specialist at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel since 1998.  He won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for a three-part investigative series examining the driving speeds of off-duty police officers, and has won many other journalism honors.

John Maines 160604

John Maines reading a copy of the “Insight”, SUNY Canton’s newspaper that he wrote in before starting his career in journalism.

  • Richard and Bonnie Wright are the owners of Pepsi-Cola Ogdensburg Bottlers, which was recognized as 2012 Bottler of the year. They are leading philanthropists in Ogdensburg, where they support the Boys and Girls Club, the Richard E. Winter Cancer Center, and many other organizations throughout the county.




Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “h”.  Our fastest responder was Lenore VanderZee, with others getting all five right including Alan Gabrielli, Marianne DiMarco-Temkin, Renee Campbell, and Terri Clemmo.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Dance done on the beaches of Hawaii.  Hula
  2. Column in the newspaper that tells you your future.  Horoscope
  3. Actress who appeared in the movies “Twister”, “Cast Away”, The Sessions” and on TV on “Mad About You”.  Helen Hunt
  4. LBJ’s vice president, ran for president but lost to Nixon.  Hubert Horatio Humphrey
  5. Greeting in a song by the Doors that precedes “Won’t you tell me your name?”  Hello, I Love You. 



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Moving on through the alphabet, this week’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “i”.  Everyone with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a prize. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Sweet and cold summer treat.  I’ll take two scoops.
  2. House made out of ice.
  3. Its capital is Jerusalem.
  4. Swedish store selling furniture you have to put together.
  5. John Lennon song that has as its chorus: “You may say that I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one.  I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.


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